Thursday, July 21, 2016

little prayers to a big God

The Word for today:
Nehemiah 2
My name is Franklyn Pfeil.  Pronounced "file," it rhymes with smile.
Pfeil is a German word. It means arrow. In fact, I am quite frequently mentioned in the German Bible.  Which makes me a very big deal, in German that is.
I like the name Pfeil, and not only because of its meaning. I also like the way it sounds. It's what literary experts call an example of onomatopoeia.
An onomatopoetic word sounds like what it means. Buzz is onomatopoetic. Crunch is onomatopoetic. Sizzle and hiss are. Screech is. Onomatopoetic words are fun. My favorite example of onomatopoeia is from a song I learned when I was but a wee little lad:
It went zip when it moved and bop when it stopped,
And whirr when it stood still.
I never knew just what it was and I guess I never will.
(--Tom Paxton, "The Marvelous Toy")
Pfeil is onomatopoetic in its initial sound, a consonant blend which gives the sense of an arrow flying by your ear: pffffffff!
It's a quick sound, here and gone in less than a blink, which is the point of today's blog -- because Nehemiah is the master of what has come to be called the "arrow prayer."
Nehemiah characteristically prayed to God while he went about his duties, "shooting an arrow" (so to speak) to God while he was knee-deep in something other than prayer time. Examples of these prayers-in-less-than-a-moment can be found in Nehemiah 1:5-11 / 2:4 / 4:4-5 / 5:19 / 6:9,14 / 13:14,22,31.
We must never forget that the power in a prayer has nothing to do with its length, or its eloquence. A short, simple prayer to a great big Jesus is way, way, way more effective than an ornate, feature-length prayer to a lesser Jesus.
Prayer is never about the prayer itself. Prayer is never even about the one who sends it. The only thing that matters about a prayer is the one it's sent to.
So in the midst of the noise and haste that you'll face today, don't overlook the "arrows" in your prayer arsenal. Send a few little prayers whizzing on their way to our great, good God.

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